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John Epeneter was born in Buicen on the Rhein, according to his tombstone, and died in 1896. As you can see from the top photo, the retaining wall and the steps up to the plot have had a lot of years to settle. John was the last person buried in the plot for this family (at least the last to have a marker), so it's been over 115 years since anyone has been buried there. I've found only nine listings in the entire United States for that surname, none of which are in Iowa or Nebraska, so I'm going to surmise that this plot probably represents a single family that moved west to build a life of their own and died out in the process. 

However, there was an Epeneter family living across the river in Omaha, either at the same time or within a few years of John's death, so they could be related. The Gustave Epeneter house, which is on the Omaha Landmarks list, is still standing. Click on the link to read about the history of this branch of the Epeneter family and their house. 

I did hear from a descendant of this Epeneter a few years ago, so the family is still out there and growing, just not in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area. At the bottom of the page is the Epeneter family info Kathy J. sent me several years ago, which I just found again while cleaning off a hard drive; my thanks again to Kathy for this information. This link has a short bio for John. The information Kathy sent talks about John Epeneter having done the iron cornice work for the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs, Iowa. If you haven't been to the Squirrel Cage, do so the next time you're near Council Bluffs. It's a fascinating piece of architecture, the only one of its kind.  And, as a bonus, it's reported to be haunted.

Epeneter Plot


Epeneter Monument


Epeneter Closeup

Epeneter Monument


September 11, 1885 - Last evening quite a number of citizens gathered in the vicinity of the old courthouse to watch the transfer of prisoners to the new jail. At a quarter past four, Sheriff Guittar, Jailer Schontz, and Constable McFadden, with a GLOBE reporter, entered the jail. The prisoners were called out of the old jail, two at a time, and handcuffed together. When six had been secured, they were marched to the "Squirrel Cage" Jail and placed in the exercise room in the second tier, on the right side. Then the officers returned and six more were transferred. The third trip two women were taken over, and assigned to the women's cells. The fifteenth prisoner had been allowed his freedom during the day, and was assisting in the moving work. 

The names of the prisoners being transferred are as follows: 

Cuff Johnson - murder; Henry Jones - great bodily injury; Miles Mullen - horse stealing;  Frank Scofield – forgery;  Ed Rankin - confidence man; M. Dorry - cutting affray; John Turner - cutting affray; Peter Norton - highway robbery; James Kinney - who is serving a 30 day sentence for larceny; Alva Tripp - counterfeiting, federal prisoner; John Gordon - violating the revenue laws, federal prisoner; Henry, Gertrude, and Lena Brock - larceny. (These parties were arrested for stealing at Manning, Iowa. They are father, mother, and daughter.) The last on the list is Lee McInturf, a Carroll county horse thief, who with the Brock family are here for safekeeping. 

The "Squirrel Cage" Jail was accepted from the contractors by the county board. The structure cost nearly $30,000, and was built by Wickham Brothers, Mr. J.M.Carter being the superintendent of construction and Eckel & Mann of St. Joe, the architects. The various classes of work were sublet as follows: 

Iron Work - Haugh, Ketcham & Co. of Indianapolis; Cornice work and roofing - John Epeneter; Painting - B. Terwilliger; Carpenter - G.S. Lawson; and Mason work - Wickham Bros. 

You have just read about opening day at the Pottawattamie County "Squirrel Cage" Jail. The jail closed in 1969 and is now a museum. The "Squirrel Cage" Jail is the only three story revolving jail ever built. Come listen to the "Tales from the Cells" and view the historical displays dealing with the history of Pottawattamie County.       ____________________________________________________ 

Census data for John Epeneter family: 

In the 1860 Census taken on 6-16-1860 he was in Nebraska Territory, Douglas County, Omaha City, First Ward- John Epeneter, age 25, male, Tin Smith, 0$ real estate, $200 personal property, born-Hessen, Germany, he was living in a hotel. 

In the 1870 Census taken on 8-5 1870 he was in Iowa, Pottawattamie County, Council Bluffs, Ward 3 

1. John Epeneter-33,White,male,Tinner,$6500 real estate, $8000 pers property, b-Darmstant, Germany, father and mother were of foreign birth, he was male over 21.

 2. Henrietta Epeneter-30,White, Female,Keeping house, b- Westthalen, Germany, mother and father of foreign birth. 

3. G.T. Epeneter- age 7 WM b-NE, at school 

4. Maggie Epeneter- age 5, FW b-IA 

5. G.A.G.T. Epeneter- age 4, MW b-IA 

6. O.A. Epeneter-age 2 MW b-IA 

7. H.E. Epeneter- age 1 FW b-IA 

8. George T. Epeneter- age 31, MW, b- Darmstant, Germany, mother and father of foreign birth. 

From A.T. Andreas’ Historical Atlas, State of Iowa, Pottawattamie County 1875 

Listing: Name: Epeneter, John - Occupation: Tin Manufacturer - Nativity: Germany -Arrival: 1856 

1889 Omaha Directory Listing - John Epeneter - Address: 108-110 S. 12th St. - Business: Eagle Cornice Works - Occupation: Proprietor; manufacturer of galvanized iron cornices, window caps & metallic skylights. Tin, Iron and slate roofing, contracts solicited everywhere and estimates furnished.